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Encyclopedia > Additional member system

The Additional Member System (AMS) is a voting system in which some representatives are elected from geographic constituencies and others are elected under proportional representation from party lists. The constituency representatives are generally elected under the first-past-the-post voting system. The party list representatives are elected by a second vote, where the electors vote for a political party, not directly for an individual. This party vote determines the number of representatives the party has in the assembly. The particular individuals selected come from lists drawn up by the political parties before the election, at a national or regional level. A voting system is a process that allows a group of people to express their tolerances or preferences about a number of options, and then selects one or more of those options, typically in a way meant to satisfy many of the voters. ... Proportional representation (PR) is any election system which ensures a proportionally representative result of a democratic election, x% of votes should be represented by x% in the democratic institutions, parliament or congress. ... Party-list proportional representation systems are a family of voting systems used in multiple-winner elections (e. ... The first-past-the-post electoral system is a voting system for single-member districts, variously called first-past-the-post (FPTP or FPP), winner-take-all, plurality voting, or relative majority. ...

Variations of the AMS have different ways of determining how many party list representatives each party is entitled to. The main difference between systems is whether the constituency representatives are counted when list representatives are allocated to each party.

  • Under the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) or Top-Up system, the aim is either for the party's total number of representatives, including constituency representatives, to be proportional to its percentage of the party vote, or for the allocation of additional party list seats to offset some or all of the disproportionate result in the constituencies.
  • Under the Parallel Voting or Supplementary Member (SUP) system, the party list seats are allocated proportionally, and any constituency seats the party may have won are additional.

Parallel Voting is the more common variation among voting systems of the world, but MMP is the system described here. Small parties will generally win more seats under MMP than SUP unless there is a threshold of exclusion, such as the 5% or 3 constituencies threshold in Germany, or the 5% or 1 constituency seat threshold in New Zealand. Parallel voting describes a mixed voting system where voters in effect participate in two separate elections using different systems, and where the results in one election have little or no impact on the results of the other. ... These tables deal with voting to select candidates for office, not for the passing of legislation. ...

This fictional New Zealand ballot has the party vote on the left and the constituency vote on the right.
This fictional New Zealand ballot has the party vote on the left and the constituency vote on the right.


Download high resolution version (579x829, 98 KB)This is a large image of a sample New Zealand ballot. ... Download high resolution version (579x829, 98 KB)This is a large image of a sample New Zealand ballot. ...


The AMS is used to elect members to numerous representative bodies around the world.

It would have been used for the proposed Regional Assemblies in England. The Bundestag (Federal Diet) is the parliament of Germany. ... A federation (from the Latin fœdus, covenant) is a state comprised of a number of self-governing regions (often themselves referred to as states) united by a central (federal) government. ... The New Zealand Parliament is the legislative body of the New Zealand government. ... Unicameralism is the practice of having only one legislative or parliamentary chamber. ... An aerial view of Parliament of India at New Delhi. ... The London Assembly is an elected body that supervises the Greater London Authority and the Mayor of London. ... The Scottish Parliament (Pàrlamaid na h-Alba in Gaelic, Scots Pairlament in Scots) is the national unicameral legislature of Scotland. ... The National Assembly for Wales (or NAW) (Welsh: Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru) was established in 1998, following a 1997 referendum in which a small majority of voters (but not the electorate) voted in favour of the Labour Governments plans for devolution. ... Regional Assembly is a title which has universally been adopted by the English bodies established as regional chambers under the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998. ...

AMS is also used in Bolivia, Italy (lower house, since 1994), Lesotho, Mexico and Venezuela. 1994 (MCMXCIV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International year of the Family. ...

Hungary has a complex voting system that results in a less proportional representation than AMS but more proportional than Parallel voting. Parallel voting describes a mixed voting system where voters in effect participate in two separate elections using different systems, and where the results in one election have little or no impact on the results of the other. ...

Proposals for British elections

In 1976, the Hansard Society recommended that the Additional Member System be used for UK parliamentary elections, but instead of using closed party lists, it proposed that seats be filled by defeated candidates, on a 'best loser' basis. A similar system was proposed by the Independent Commission in 1999, known as Alternative Vote plus (AV+). This would involve the use of the Alternative Vote for electing members from single-member constituencies, and regional party lists. However, contrary to the Labour party's earlier manifesto promises, there was not a referendum before the 2001 election and the statement was not repeated. 1976 (MCMLXXVI) is a leap year starting on Thursday (link will take you to calendar). ... Hansard is the traditional name for the printed transcripts of parliamentary debates in the Westminster system of government. ... 1999 (MCMXCIX) is a common year starting on Friday, and was designated the International Year of Older Persons by the United Nations. ... When the single transferable vote voting system is applied to a single-winner election it is sometimes called instant-runoff voting (IRV), as it is much like holding a series of runoff elections in which the lowest polling candidate is eliminated in each round until someone receives majority vote. ... 2001: A Space Odyssey. ...


The voter makes two votes: one for a constituency representative and one for a party. In a lesser-used variant, which is used by some of the several States of Germany, both votes are combined into one, so that voting for a representative automatically means also voting for the representative's party.

In each constituency, the representative is chosen using a single winner method, typically first-past-the-post (that is, the candidate with the most votes, by plurality, wins). The first-past-the-post electoral system is a voting system for single-member districts, variously called first-past-the-post (FPTP or FPP), winner-take-all, plurality voting, or relative majority. ... A plurality (or relative majority) is the largest share of something, which may or may not be a majority. ...

On the district or national level (i.e. above the constituency level) two different methods are used:

  • The total number of seats in the assembly are allocated to parties proportionally to the number of votes the party received in the party portion of the ballot. Subtracted from each party's allocation is the number of constituency seats that party won. The number of seats remaining allocated to that party are filled using the party's list.
  • Alternatively, something like a highest averages method is used to allocate the list seats, but the number of seats already won in the constituencies is taken into account in setting the denominators used in the calculations for the list seats.

If a candidate is on the party list, but wins a constituency seat, they do not receive two seats; they are instead crossed off the party list and replaced with the next candidate down. The highest averages method is one way of allocating seats proportionally for representative assemblies with party list voting systems. ...

Overhang seats

Because a party can gain fewer seats by the party vote than needed to justify the won constituency seats, overhang seats can occur. There are different ways of dealing with overhang seats. In Germany's Bundestag and the New Zealand House of Representatives the overhang seats remain. In some systems the other parties receive extra seats to restore proportionality. Overhang seats are not an explicit issue where the percentages are only applied for the list seats, as in the proposed United Kingdom system, but the effect is to reduce the share of seats in the whole assembly held by parties which win disproportionately few constituencies. For example, in New Zealand's 2005 General Election the Māori Party won 2.1% of the Party Vote, entitling them to 3 seats in the House, but won 4 electorates, leaving an overhang of 1 seat, which results in a 121-member house. Overhang seats can arise in elections under mixed member proportional (MMP), when a party is entitled to fewer seats as a result of party votes than it has won constituencies. ... The Bundestag (Federal Diet) is the parliament of Germany. ... The 2005 New Zealand general election was held on 17 September 2005. ... The Māori Party, a political party in New Zealand based around Māori citizens, formed around Tariana Turia, a former Labour Party member who had been a New Zealand Cabinet minister in the current Labour-dominated coalition government. ...


In order to be eligible for list seats in the New Zealand, German and various United Kingdom systems, a party must either earn at least 5% of the total party vote or must win at least one constituency seat (three constituency seats in Germany). If neither of the two conditions are met, no candidates from the party list are chosen. Candidates having won a constituency will still have won their seat. Having a member with a 'safe' constituency seat is therefore a tremendous asset to a minor party in such a system.

Potential for tactical voting

In terms of tactical voting, the first vote for the district representative is often much less important (than the second party list vote) in determining the overall result of an election; in other cases a party may be so certain of winning seats in the district election that it expects no extra seats in the proportional top-up. Some voters may therefore seek to get a double representation by voting tactically and splitting their votes, though this runs the risk of unintended consequences. In voting systems, tactical voting (or strategic voting) occurs when a voter misrepresents his or her sincere preferences in order to gain a more favorable outcome. ...

In systems with a threshold, tactical voting for a minor party that is predicted to poll slightly below the threshold is relatively common, especially by voters who are afraid that the minor party missing the threshold would weaken the larger political camp that the minor party belongs to. For example the German moderate-right Free Democratic Party (FDP) has often received votes from voters who preferred the larger Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, because they feared that if the FDP received less than five percent of the votes, the conservative camp would be weakened so much that the CDU wouldn't be able to form a government.

Decoy lists

Political parties can also abuse the system: in the 2001 Italian elections, the two main coalitions (the House of Freedoms and the Olive Tree) linked many of their constituency candidates to decoy lists (liste civetta) in the proportional parts, under the names Abolizione Scorporo and Paese Nuovo respectively, so that if they won constituencies then they would not reduce the number of proportional seats received by the coalitions. Between them, the two decoy lists won 360 of the 475 constituency seats, more than half of the 630 total number of seats, despite winning a combined total of less than 0.2% of the national proportional part of the vote. In the case of Forza Italia (part of the House of Freedoms), the tactic was so successful that it did not have enough candidates in the proportional part to receive as many seats as it in fact won, missing out on 12 seats. Casa delle Libertà, or House of Freedoms in English, is an Italian right of center party alliance led by national media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi. ... For the Italian political alliance see Olive Tree, and the color, olive (color). ... Forza Italia is an Italian political party. ...

Decoy lists are not used in most countries using AMS, where most voters vote for candidates from parties with long-standing names.

See also

  • List of democracy and elections-related topics

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